At least seven policemen, including District Superintendent of Police R V Asari, and a number of farmers sustained injuries in stone-pelting when the police tried to stop a farmers’ rally over supply of irrigation water near Sanand town on Tuesday. Ahmedabad district police detained over 50 people, mostly youngsters, in this connection.
Police said that the organisers didn’t have permission and had called off the rally on Monday. Still, a large number of people gathered near Vichiya village and were about to take out the rally.
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The rally was supposed to reach Ahmedabad collectorate and then proceed to Gandhinagar. Since there was no permission for the rally, the police started detaining the participants when the farmers turned violent. Police said that it was mostly youngsters who started pelting stones at the police team. Soon, a major clash erupted between the police and the mob. At least seven policemen, including District Superintendent of Police R V Asari, and many farmers sustained injuries. Asari suffered head injuries. The mob also damaged police vehicles.
Inspector General of Police, Ahmedabad range, Neerja Gotru said, “The violence erupted after police tried to stop the mob since there was no permission issued to take out a rally. There were around 1,500 to 2,000 people who had gathered there. After police tried to stop the mob, the youngsters turned into unruly mob and started throwing stones at the police team.”
According to several people, the police resorted to lathicharge and lobbed several rounds of tear gas shells. The clash went on for nearly half-an-hour before the police could control it. Police officials said more than 50 persons were detained from the spot against whom legal action will be taken.
Police said that on Monday the organisers had informed the local Sanand GIDC police that they had called off the rally. However, on Tuesday, people started pouring in. Farmers have been complaining of shortage of irrigation water supply in dozens of villages recently. Following the incident, a large number of policemen, including SRP jawans, have been deployed in and around Vichiya village. Police said that they also held meetings with the village heads to control the situation.
Meanwhile, opposition Congress and Patel quota stir leader Hardik Patel criticised the police action to use force against farmers. “Police thrashed innocent farmers at the behest of BJP government, which is known for suppressing people who raise their voices,” alleged Congress state spokesperson Manish Doshi.
In a statement, Hardik said BJP government was trying every trick in the book to retain power by terrorising people. “Farmers were lathicharged for raising a legitimate demand. Such atrocities prove that this government is anti-farmer. It is their known method of being in power by terrorising people and suppressing every voice of dissent. Farmers will take appropriate decision in this regard,” said Hardik.
Protesting police action against farmers, OBC youth leader Alpesh Thakor and Hardik have given a call of Sanand Bandh for Wednesday. Mukesh Bharwad of OBC/ST/SC Manch (OSS Manch), led by Thakor, said, “In protest against police action on farmers who had carried a rally for their right, we have given a call for Sanand bandh tomorrow.” Hardik’s aide Dinesh Bambhaniya said, “Alpesh Thakor has given a call for Sanand bandh tomorrow and we have supported it.”
The Sanand GIDC police later on Tuesday lodged an FIR against the mob under various sections of IPC, including attempt to murder, voluntarily causing hurt, destroying public properties, illegal assembly among others.